This is the story of the birth of our second child, Daniel Brian. He was born at home (as planned) two weeks before his “due” date (which caught us by surprise!). We are so blessed to have this wonderful little boy in our family!
Because my first baby was born a week past her “due” date, I expected Daniel, who was “due” January 4, 2011, to for SURE be born after Christmas, and quite possibly after the new year had been rung in. I thought a birthdate of 1/1/11 would be kind of fun too. J But God (and Daniel) had other plans!
I had a great pregnancy with few complaints, and when I hit the “birth window” at 37 weeks, I still felt that my body wasn’t ready to give birth yet. How much of that was mental, as I was determined to not worry about when the baby actually was born, I don’t know. I just know that as 38 weeks drew closer, there was a shift at some point. I was still determined the baby would be born after Christmas, but was having “end of pregnancy” feelings. As in, “Okay, I’d like to be done being pregnant now and just have my baby, please.” I had been warned that this feeling would happen many weeks before I gave birth because this was my second baby. So I thought very little of it.
A friend of mine, who was due almost the same day as me had her baby about 3 weeks early. Wake up call! Suddenly, I realized that I’d better get my game face on and get all the birth supplies around, since we were planning on having a home birth. At my 37-week check up, my midwife basically told me to get busy and have everything prepared by the next time I came in.
Obediently, I got all the last things I needed and piled them in our little spare bedroom, out of the way, so my family, who was coming for Christmas, would have space to put their luggage and stuff.
One day shy of 38 weeks, December 20, 2010 found me up at o’dark-thirty nursing my daughter. I had a few “real” contractions while I was nursing, which I’d had several times that week. It was around 6 a.m., I think, and I had no desire to be awake yet, so I headed back to bed. I would almost fall asleep when another crampy contraction would squeeze my belly. And then another. And another. Ugh! I was rather frustrated…I just wanted to sleep! At some point, my husband woke up (probably due to my tossing and turning), and said, “What’s wrong?” “Oh, I’m just having contractions,” I whispered. “What?! Are they consistent? Do you want me to time them?” “No. They’ll stop. I just want to go back to sleep.” A short trying-to-relax-is-futile time later, I was up leaning over the bed with each contraction, and my hubby started timing them whether I wanted him to or not.
“Do you think you’re in labor?” “No! How can I be in labor? I still have two weeks to go! I wish I could just relax. I want to go back to sleep.” (Do you see a pattern here? Haha.) I was completely in denial, in case you hadn’t noticed. Every contraction was getting stronger and closer together, and I was still convinced I just needed to relax so I could go back to sleep. Finally, the reality of the situation began to dawn on me, and I “allowed” my husband to at least just call the midwives and let them know what was going on. The midwife on call was one I hadn’t met yet, as she was filling in for one of our regular midwives who had just gone on maternity leave. We chatted, and she said she was going to start heading our direction, as I had a history of rather short labors (my daughter was born in just 5 hours).
Still unconvinced, but becoming more aware that this was probably “it”, I got in the shower while my hubby ran around getting all the birth supplies in our room, blew up the birth tub, called his sister to come over to watch our daughter, filled the birth tub, etc., etc., etc. Things intensified for me when I was showering, but I could still manage the contractions on my own, and they were about 7 or so minutes apart.
We were quite a sight! Dashing here and there around the house to prepare it for our birth team, stopping to have a contraction, popping up again and getting more things ready, contraction, eat a little something, contraction, put plastic and dark sheets on the bed, contraction, check the slowly-filling birth tub, contraction (you get the idea).
Our birth team arrived in the midst of all this, took my vitals, listened to the baby, and got to work setting up their things. I was still walking around doing stuff, but could feel myself “going away” into Labor Land with every passing minute. I finally came to the conclusion that I was having a baby today!
Just when I needed my husband to help me through contractions, he finished all he needed to do, and was available to me. The timing could not have been better. Having been through labor and birth together before, we are the perfect team. I could not ask for a better supporter and birth partner than him!
Time became immaterial to me from this point on. I had been laboring for a few hours, and things continued to progress slowly and steadily. About noon, Valerie, who was one of our regular midwives, came on call, and arrived to take over for the other midwife. After she arrived, things slowed down for me for a little while. I even got a little 10-minute nap between contractions! Hallelujah!
I awakened from my nap with a new attitude: get ‘er done! I popped up off the bed and began pacing back and forth in my room between contractions, and sure enough, they picked up and got closer together and more intense than before. I hadn’t had any internal exams, because I could tell I wasn’t completely dilated, but felt that things were progressing just fine.
Val asked if I wanted to get in the tub yet, and I kept saying, “not yet.” Somehow I wasn’t “feeling” the need for the tub. So much of labor for me is about feeling. It’s really amazing how God has wired us to be able to run on “instinct” so that our bodies just know what they need when we are laboring.
Suddenly, in the midst of a contraction, my water broke with a huge sploosh! Fortunately for our bedroom carpet, I was standing on a chucks pad at the time. J And then the game changed. I had been bearing down quite a bit before, but now I was ready to push this baby out! I was also immediately ready for the tub. And oh, the relief when I got in that warm water!
Again, time escapes me. I can’t remember just how long I was in the tub, but I do know it was intense! In thinking back on my daughter’s birth, I always thought it really wasn’t all that bad, but I hit a point about this time in labor when I thought, “Oh! I forgot about this part!” That hard little head plummeting down toward my tailbone made me remember the actual intensity. Because I had birthed a baby before, I knew just how much farther that head had to come, and when things would ease up a little. Only they didn’t ease up.
I pushed and p-u-s-h-e-d! My dear hubby was behind me in the tub pressing my hips together, as I held Kat’s (the student midwife at our birth) hands, and almost pulled her arms out of the sockets. (Not really…she told me the next day her arms weren’t even sore—but mine were!) FINALLY I felt the baby crowning. “Just a few more pushes, and he’ll be OUT!” I thought. I felt his head come out, and expected to feel some relief after that, but the intensity just continued to escalate.
A few more pushes, and I could tell something wasn’t quite right in there. Nothing was happening. And then Val kicked into high gear. “I’ll give you two more pushes, and then I want you out of the tub and on the birth stool,” she told me. “I can’t do anything,” I gasped out. (Internally I was thinking, “I WILL push this baby out in the tub!”) She instructed me to lie back on my husband so she could help me. I sat back the best I could with a baby’s head hanging out of me, and feeling incredibly stretched with those little (or should I say huge) shoulders trying to squeeze out too. I could feel the tension in the room. As I leaned back, I heard myself say, “No complications in Jesus’ Name!” My whole being was a prayer at that point.
While Val reached up inside to try to dislodge the shoulder dystocia, Kat pushed on the shoulder from the outside of my belly with her fist. Everything happened so quickly, and I was already in the midst of such intense sensations, that it didn’t seem nearly as horrible as it sounds. Suddenly the little shoulder popped free and the baby slid out of my body and into my arms! Bliss! Relief! Delight! A SON!
We named him Daniel Brian, which means “God is my Judge” and “Honor and Virtue”. Though we didn’t have any ultrasounds to find out his gender, we KNEW he was a boy almost from the beginning of my pregnancy. What a delight he is! He is blessed with a gentle, sweet spirit, and a laid-back personality. He loves one-on-one interaction, and has the best smile.
God’s hand was on Daniel in his birth. He had a rather short umbilical cord, which ended up being a blessing, as it didn’t slip out with his head, or get pressed up against his shoulder and cut off the circulation when he was stuck. I am so grateful to the Lord for orchestrating everything so perfectly in the whole birth and labor.
And the timing! How big was our little dude? Val weighed him and announced, “Nine pounds, four ounces!” I was stunned. I thought she might be joking. “Are you serious?” She wasn’t kidding. He never lost weight after birth, and by the time he reached his due date, he weighed eleven pounds! Boy, oh boy, am I glad he was two weeks early! J
It was so much fun to have our little guy around for all the Christmas festivities. Both our families were together for the holiday, and everyone got to enjoy our sleepy little (big!) newborn. I could not have planned this birth better myself. I guess, as our midwife told me at our next visit, “you were just made for this!” Yes, I think she’s right. I love being a woman. A Wife. A Mommy.